Sunday, September 09, 2012

Book Review: Intact, a First-hand Account of the D-day Invasion from a Fifth Rangers Company Commander by General John C. Raaen, Jr. Reedy Press. 2012. 184 pages. ISBN 978-1935806271.

On D-Day, John Raaen was the company commander of the 5th Ranger Battalion’s Headquarters’ Company. He also wrote his unit’s after action report for the early days in June, and thus is an invaluable witness to the confusion of the invasion.

Now, almost 70 years later, he has written his memories of the invasion the following few days. What makes this memoir somewhat different is that he had actually written down his memoires shortly after the event, and set them aside. Years later, when he attempted to document what the 5th Rangers had been through, he compared his one memory and the official histories, with his period notes; he found them at odds with one another. He worked to figure out which was the truth, and here we have a marvelous picture of what happened.

This may be one of the most detailed memoirs I have seen of that day. You can follow his movements past road, hedgerow and farm by his periodic use of grid coordinates. As such this is not only a terribly important record of D-Day, but of the following post invasion days as well. Anyone with an interest in the Rangers, or in Omaha really should read this book.

Many WW2 memoirs are a bit disappointing; this one is not. I have one main complaint about the book: it’s too short. I hope that the author can find the time to expand it to include some of the D-Day training, as well, the post invasion period up to Brest, or into Germany.

A suggestion (and I guess a minor note) is that the map of the area with grid lines is not well reproduced in the book.  (I think they grayscaled it rather than black and white). I would suggest you have one of the many reprints of that Omaha map and its environs by your hand as you read. Heck, stick it under plastic and trace his route with a gease pencil!

Purchase Intact from Amazon.

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